when joseph came home, they brought into the house to him the present that they had with them and bowed down to him to the ground. and he inquired about their welfare and said, “is your father well, the old man of whom you spoke? is he still alive?” they said, “your servant our father is well; he is still alive.” and they bowed their heads and prostrated themselves. and he lifted up his eyes and saw his brother benjamin, his mother’s son, and said, “is this your youngest brother, of whom you spoke to me? God be gracious to you, my son!” then joseph hurried out, for his compassion grew warm for his brother, and he sought a place to weep. and he entered his chamber and wept there. [genesis 43:26-30]
a simple yahoo definition search defines tenderizing as “to make more tender by beating or slow cooking.” this definition regards meat, but though maybe strange, the definition may apply to joseph, as well.
joseph was beaten down. he was thrown into a pit, sold into slavery, and faced not just any prison, but the king’s prison.
and in the thirteen years of waiting on the Lord, his heart was slowly marinating on God’s presence. it says three times in chapter 40 alone that “the Lord was with joseph.” joseph’s heart was learning to depend on the Lord, tenderizing it. God molded joseph’s heart to be tender.
it is out of this tender space that joseph was able to be tender with his brothers. his brothers have offered no apology for their wrongdoing, for they do not even recognize joseph. his brothers have even stated to his face that they are honest men (gen. 42:31)! yet, joseph does not treat them harshly. instead, he genuinely asks them about their family. he sees his beloved brother, benjamin, and weeps. he does not grow cold or bitter at his other brothers for separating him from benjamin. this self control can only come from God, by a tenderized heart.
God uses trials to mold and shape our hearts. which leads us to the questions:
is your heart tender?
has it grown lukewarm, or even cold?
if so, what has caused your hardened heart?
what truth are you forgetting or refusing to believe?
what is distracting or hindering you from pursuing the Lord?
i’ve always struggled with over-correlating my emotions with my walk with God. sometimes i think to myself, “if i have cried over my sin today, then i must be right with God.”
or, “my time with God was only fruitful or genuine if i feel really, really good afterwards.”
or, “if i don’t feel all the emotions while worshiping, i must not be truly saved.”
friends, this is not God’s call for us. we are not to try to control our relationships with God by trying to put on emotions when spending time with him. we trust that God is good, steadfast, and is producing fruit in us regardless of whether our emotions are still or swirling.
the point is that out of his tender heart for the Lord, joseph was led to cry, not lash out. tenderized hearts to the gospel are revealed in how we react to intense situations, not in what kind of emotions we can wear on the outside. analyze your interactions today and bring them before the Lord, who is faithful to soften your heart.
the God of joseph, who was always with him, is with you today. take courage, as he will never leave you or forsake you (deuteronomy 31:8).